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Going on an Externship? Tips for Success: Legal Research for Free

Free Legal Resources - how to know what's reliable?

In addition to Westlaw, Lexis and Bloomberg and the variety of subscription databases available at the UNH Franklin Pierce Law Library, there are many free resources available as well. Using some of these suggestions can ensure you are using reliable content.  When you're evaluating a resource (website, database, book, etc.) please be sure to remember asking yourselves more about the resource.  For instance, what can you tell about the resource?
Is it: 
  • Authoritative?
    • Is the author a trusted organization?  An author with expertise in the topic? 
  • Objective?
    • Does the website take one side over another or is it trying to be neutral in its delivery of information?  Advocacy group websites can be a valuable source of information, but may only present a view leaning in one direction or another
  • Current?
    • What is the date of publication? When was it last updated?
  • Reliable?
    • Do they cite reliable sources?  Are the citations accurate so you can locate the cited resource?
Here are some other resources put together by Pace Law Library for fact-checking a source.

Federal Statutes and Legislation

Some starting points to finding statutes and regulations.
  • GovInfo - Portal - Provides access federal government publications (cases, statutes, regulations).  Govinfo is the new FDsys.  Has public and private laws enacted from the 104th Congress (1995-1996) to the present. Beginning with the 110th Congress (2007-2008), the laws are digitally signed and certified.  Authentic copies!
  • U.S. Constitution Research Guide - Law Library of Congress guide to the U.S. Constitution, with the text and additional resources.
  • United States Legislative - Law Library of Congress guide to the legislative process and Congress, includes overview, procedural manuals, Congressional Record, and other Congressional reports and publications.
  • United States Code - Has historic access to U.S. Code editions back to 1994.

Other State Statutes

New Hampshire cases, statutes and regulations

Free to all UNH Law law students - 
Casemakerx - requires registration with your UNH Law email.  Has all NH cases, statutes, regulations and some agency opinions too.  Also has cases from federal, state and tribal courts too.
New Hampshire Court Opinions - available from the New Hampshire Judicial Branch
Laws of New Hampshire - New Hampshire Law (RSA) and Bill search as well as info on the General Court (legislature)
New Hampshire Administrative Law - Take a look at this Guide to learn more about NH Rules and their process.

State Courts and caselaw

State Courts and how they operate
National Center for State Courts - National organization that collects data on state courts and also includes links to the state court websites.
Caselaw Portals and Databases 
Casetext - Casetext’s allows the addition of personalized metadata to documents and filters to refine subsequent searches. Casetext uses term proximity and keyword boosting.  The AI product CARA is available for a fee.  The core database is free. Findlaw - Portal with searchable decisions from federal and state courts.
Google Scholar Case Law search - Links to legal opinions and law review articles.
Justia – Portal that has Supreme Court cases, Courts of Appeals cases beginning with 1950, district court cases beginning with 2004, some state case law.  
Public Library of Law – Portal that includes all appellate level federal cases (Supreme court and Courts of Appeal) as well as state cases beginning with 1997.
Supreme Court Database - Contains over two hundred pieces of information about each case decided by the Court between 1791 and 2018.


Federal Regulations